I fully expected this post to be about how great the Fall were last night and then I was going to tell you how wonderful the new album is and that you really should go out and buy it.
Unfortunately my view of the gruppe, I really mean Smith here is rather jaded after the brief performance I and the rest of the audience were privy to last night.
I have never really been fond of seeing The Fall in Edinburgh, I always think that there is more of a chance that Smith may not turn up or be completely drunk and unable to function due to the fact that he knows the city well having lived there for a time. So when I heard that they were playing Edinburgh my enthusiasm was somewhat lacking from the off and the fact that it would be the opening night of the tour only added to my pessimism. Then I found out that it would be in Studio 24, which I had been informed was a toilet owned by an ex member of the Exploited, possible the worst punk band in the world. It was not looking too inviting and to top it off, with the booking fee, it would be around 30 quid for a ticket which is fucking outrageous considering that on the previous tour both nights at the Renfrew Ferry cost £27. I decided that I would pass this time.
That was until I turned my work phone on last Monday morning to find a text from S saying that he had bought tickets and we would be going after all and his eldest brother, a Fall virgin would also be coming. So all week I have been looking forward to the gig.
We arrived early and were pleasantly surprised to find the venue not half as bad as we had expected. There was the usual, I hope he turns up feelings but after getting M a t-shirt from the lady from Action Records I felt reasonably confident that all would be well. Until I noticed the screens either side of the stage, which can only mean one thing at a Fall gig and that is that Safi Sniper is in the house. Trying to explain what Safi does is pointless as you really have to witness it to fully understand how bad it is. He calls himself a video dj and he picks out bits of old rock film and time stretches the image and the sound but one image and a single beat or note and stretches it and loops it for what seems to be an eternity, it is truly fucking awful, however Smith insists on having him open for the Fall, probably due to the hostile reaction he receives from the crowd. So my mood changed knowing that we would have to endure this before the Gruppe took to the stage.
The support act, Gabriel’s Wish were inoffensive enough a sort of mixture of the Fall, Killing Joke and Joy Division, the singer however was a complete cock what with is cringe inducing stage persona.
Then came Safi, a good 15 minutes of the twat.
Finally the Fall came on and they sounded brilliant from the off. This line-up have gelled really well and have become a very tight garage band, Smith sauntered on stage two thirds of the way through the first song and all of my fears dissipated. The next couple of songs were great and then during Bury Smith started fiddling about with Pete Greenway’s amp to such an extent that the whole of the song was done guitar less as he had turned it right down. At the end of Bury Smith left the stage which is not uncommon, he always goes back stage either for a fag or some speed or a drink or god knows what, however it was a bit early into the set which was a bit concerning. The band launched into an instrumental and followed it with I’ve Been Duped, which Elena sings anyway and during which MES usually returns to finish the song off. The song seemed to go on and on and on with no sign of Smith reappearing and S turned to me and said “that’s it” to which I could only reply “looks like it”. The band then left the stage.
There were a lot of stunned faces and quite a few who were now resigned to the fact that, that was it. The band did reappear about ten minutes later. Elena saying something about the steps up to the stage being very steep and that we would have to do without smith’s presence which went down well. They then launched into a half hearted version of Mr Pharmacist, with fucking Safi on vocals and then left the stage rather sharpish.
And that was it, over! Smith had maybe been on stage all of 25 minutes the band 35.
I was fucking raging! but got even angrier on overhearing a group of guys saying “well that’s the chance you take coming to see the Fall and that’s why we love him“.
No it fucking isn’t. I go to see the band and expect to be entertained for about an hour, which isn’t too much to ask when I’m parting with my hard earned fucking cash. I’m sick to death of people making excuses for Smith, whether it be his total disdain for the audience, who are keeping him in beer and fags, his late appearance or his tendency to sing from back stage and most of all his walk offs.
I am also sick of hearing about his work ethic, not very apparent last night Mark, or does he actually think that 20 odd minutes is acceptable?
s. I wouldn’t say that it is a return to form, as I don’t think that they have made a bad album over the past decade but it is the first since Fall Heads Roll that is consistently good and has absolutely no filler.
Will I stop buying the recorded output of the gruppe? Of course not.
Will I go and see them live again? Most definitely.
And this is what makes me angry at myself, the fact that I know that I will go back and see them and that I know that Smith banks on Fall fans having this attitude. I wouldn’t do it for any other band and I don’t quite understand why I have this attitude towards the Fall but I know that I am not alone.
Chet Baker – The Thrill Has Gone